Research at Langley on skin friction drag was described in Tech Briefs. 3M engineers suggested to Langley that grooves molded into a lightweight plastic film with adhesive backing and pressed on an airplane would be simpler than cutting grooves directly onto the surface. Boeing became involved and tested the ''riblet'' on an olympic rowing shell; the US won a silver medal. Based on the riblet-like projections on shark's skins, the technology may provide a 5 percent fuel saving for airplanes. Product is no longer commercially available.
Dryden Flight Research Center; Langley Research Center